Help! I’ve been selected for Parliament. What do I do next?

There’s a whole set of advice, support and training available for any Liberal Democrat member who wants to become a Parliamentary candidate. Once you are selected as a Prospective Parliamentary Candidate (PPC – a piece of jargon explained here), however, it all rather drops away unless you are in a target seat.

So here are my nine tips (updated from an earlier list of eight) on what to do immediately after you’ve been selected.

  1. Congratulate yourself: being a PPC can be difficult, tiring and arduous. It’s also a brilliant service to the party and to liberalism, with a good chance of having fun and success along the way. You’ve done great to be selected and you’ve got a chance to work wonders with your team.
  2. Get an election agent lined-up: they are your key colleague; agents need (prospective) candidates and (prospective) candidates need agents. The sooner the better, especially as that gives you both more time to learn how best to work with each other and how to do your respective roles. Speaking of which…
  3. Get a copy of the latest edition of the general election agents manual: available via the party and also if you email me a photo of yourself holding your membership card.
  4. Update your online biographies: Twitter, Facebook, website, wherever you or the local party is mentioned in a brief bit of profile/about text, add in your new existence as a PPC. (This may sound obvious step, but I often find when I’m checking news about a new PPC something has been missed out, such as them not having updated their own Twitter bio.)
  5. Tell the sites which list candidates: Make sure correct contact information and basic biographical information are on the main websites profiling candidates, especially www.LibDems.org.uk (by emailing candidates@libdems.org.uk), WhoCanIVoteFor.co.uk and DemocracyClub.org.uk
  6. Tell the local media: levels of press interest in PPC selections vary hugely, but a local press release can also easily be adapted for use with a local Lib Dem website, an email to members and so on. Get one done, out and up. Ping it over to me too, and I’ll give you a bit of coverage on this site and social media.
  7. Join the best Facebook support groups: I’d particularly recommend Lib Dem CampaignersLib Dem Newbies and the official Parliamentary Candidates group run by HQ. There’s also the support available via the party website.
  8. Make sure you understand the two-way relationship involved in targeting: talk of the need to support the party’s targeting policy will become increasingly intense as polling day nears, so make sure you understand what it’s all about.
  9. And of course, there’s a certain book I could recommend…

6 responses to “Help! I’ve been selected for Parliament. What do I do next?”

  1. and that’s not all… Regardless of the status of the seat, there is a whole load more that you should be doing..
    Is there a book on that, or can you and I co-write one. ? I have done the job 5 times, only one of which was potentially winnable(in theory), so I have the bruises and the T-shirts, and learned all about the condition known as candidatitis.

  2. These are all good points Mark. I’ve got a few more suggestions. 🙂
    10. Make sure you have an answer to the question, ‘Why are you standing’? This should be short but interesting, and easy to memorise. You WILL be asked this question a lot before election day, e.g. by local media and by voters, friend and family. You don’t want to be Ted Kennedy and not have an answer! A short memorised paragraph will stand you in good stead for chats, canvassing, press interviews and hustings.
    11. Understand the role of PPC: your key function starting today should be to meet and talk to as many voters (in the constituency) as you can, and tell them you’re the LibDem PPC and why you are standing (see #10). You should NOT be sitting in committee meetings, organising jumble sales or planning leaflets.
    12. The exception to #11 is that you need to be visible to your local party ACTIVISTS. Inspiring them is a key part of being the PPC. Lead from the front in canvassing sessions, and insist they all join you in the pub afterwards. Make sure you thank people and chat to them. Take individuals aside and quietly tell them how much you appreciate the time and work they personally are giving. Make sure your agent does the same.
    13. There is a ‘PPC kit’ that you should never leave the house with: note-pad and pen (to write down any casework or other things people say to you). a few copies of your last leaflet (to hand to people you chat to), a camera (phone-cam is OK) – in case you see any broken pavements or potholes or anything else that might look good in a leaflet.

  3. entirely endorsing Tony H, I would add a few things that you need to get done NOW and out of the way: do you need new glasses or a dental check-up? check that the car is MoT’d and insured, refresh your wardrobe, talk with your partner/spouse/family about what to expect; if you have a rogue relative who supports another party make peace with them.. and if you ‘smoked opium in Afganistan’ get the info out there so that it isn’t revealed by an opponent later.
    Speak to your bank and arrange an overdraft, NOT to fund the campaign but to ensure that all personal/family budgeting is cushioned.
    If you are a target seat then you partner/spouse needs also to work with your agent, to ensure that anything domestic is dealt with or managed(like who takes the dog to the vet), ie anything that will free you up to spend more time with the voters. Your partner might be accompanying you to some events, so some voluntary help with domestic stuff would help (and a supporter who doesn’t like canvassing might be ideal for that).
    On which point, get all your members/friends/supporters to invite you to their club/society to meet people. And in rushing around from one end of the constituency to the other, do whenever possible, get someone else to drive, and you sit in the back seat so that you can ignore the road, and gather your thoughts/read your briefing papers.
    Don’t use your personal contact details on leaflets etc, and get your lead activist to manage your diary..

  4. and that’s not all…
    Mark’s number 6: find out who your local BBC politics person is and speak to them at conference, introduce them to people so that they feel welcome in the LibDem family. Get their business card(and give them yours), ditto any journalists you meet so that you can send a media release directly to them, rather than through their gatekeeper.
    When they come to interview you in your constituency, consider where to meet them and the iconic local shots that you want to be connected with.
    When answering questions aim to say a third about you and a third about the constituency, the other third being about the question and the Party

  5. I’d add – scrub your online history. Every single twitter or facebook post/comment you have made is a potential vector of attack for opponents.

    Get someone knowledgeable to help you but a good start would be set all your past facebook posts to “me only”.

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